Three changes we need to see from the Cork hurlers in Waterford

Éamonn Murphy looks at how the Rebels can try and salvage their season after two poor displays against Limerick and Clare
Three changes we need to see from the Cork hurlers in Waterford

Cork’s Patrick Horgan and manager Kieran Kingston. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

SUMMER has only started but Cork's hurling season is as good as over.

Yes, if they beat Waterford down in Walsh Park and Tipp in Thurles they can go through. Given how bad the displays were in the Limerick and Clare losses, getting those two wins doesn't seem likely.

Even then they'd still need other results to go in their favour, with Clare at home to Waterford and Limerick. Scoring difference could also be an issue. A big ask.

So what do we need to see in the coming matches? 

FIRE ON THE SIDELINE

Kieran Kingston is in the last year of his agreed three-year term with the board and it's unlikely he'll be back in charge next season. 

He's getting slated at the moment, which comes with the territory of inter-county management, particularly in Cork. But that doesn't mean he's not hurting. 

He's Cork to the core and has given incredible service from his playing days to his stint as selector and coach with Jimmy Barry-Murphy. Since 2012 he's been involved in eight of the 11 senior campaigns and deserves the respect that goes with such commitment.

What we'd love to see now is a bit of fire and fury from the bainisteoir on the sideline. Ranting and raving at officials and players is counterproductive but Cork need to go down fighting and that should come from the manager.

Cork can feel sorry for themselves or answer their critics by heading over the border and upsetting the odds. Kingston must set the tone. He needs to drive them on.

If these are to be his final games as Cork manager, his side should at least go down fighting as a truer reflection of his own passion than the efforts so far in the championship.

HURL WITH A BIT OF PRIDE

Like Kingston and his selectors, the players have taken significant flak. 

Last Sunday, Kingston said: "After the Limerick game and all that happened in the two weeks since what was said by different people has affected players as well. People are entitled to their opinions.

"I thought we showed a bit of nervousness on the back of that, definitely in the first 20 minutes and on the scoreboard, 11 points down at one stage with 14 minutes to go."

What do they expect though? 

Teddy McCarthy's recent piece in The Echo was a particular source of frustration by all accounts but it must be remembered that, whatever about the views of those outside Rebel county, anything written or said here is not intended to undermine Cork hurling. In fact, it's the opposite.

We all get a lift when they are motoring. When they struggle it demoralises everyone.

Supporters have actually been very patient with Cork in the seasons since they recaptured the Munster title as outsiders in 2017. There have been a series of defensive collapses and lifeless showings, as well as some exhilarating highs of course, but Cork have always drawn big crowds.

Cork’s Niall O'Leary and Robert Downey hunt Robin Mounsey of Clare. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie
Cork’s Niall O'Leary and Robert Downey hunt Robin Mounsey of Clare. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

The fans just want to see the players tear into every game like it's all that matters. 

BE DIRECT AND AGGRESSIVE

Cork started pretty well against Limerick but their overly cautious build-up meant they were never going to score enough to win.

It was the opposite against Clare in that the Banner absolutely bossed the first quarter and were 11 points in front after 25 minutes. Clare's distribution and movement in attack led to multiple scoring opportunities while their abrasiveness at midfield and defensive intensity made Cork look utterly toothless. 

It was a damning indictment of Cork that Patrick Horgan, 34 this month, was the most threatening forward until Alan Connolly's introduction. 

The backbone of the Cork team is now the 2015 minor crop: Shane Kingston, Tim O'Mahony, Mark Coleman, Darragh Fitzgibbon, Niall O'Leary and Robbie O'Flynn. Coleman and Fitzgibbon are All-Stars and they're all hugely talented hurlers but should be leading the way at this stage of their careers. 

Cork have to be aggressive in every line of the field but especially from those marquee players.

Tactics are a key part of the modern game but edging the 50-50 battles remain key.

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